Emmy Nominee Idris Elba Stars in Thrilling Sequel to BBC America's Acclaimed Drama 'Luther'

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August 26th, 2011

via press release:

EMMY NOMINEE IDRIS ELBA STARS IN THRILLING SEQUEL TO BBC AMERICA’S ACCLAIMED DRAMA LUTHER

Elba returns as homicide detective John Luther this September on weekly slot Dramaville

 This September, Emmy nominee Idris Elba makes a welcome return to BBC AMERICA to reprise his role in the critically acclaimed crime drama Luther. Elba stars as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, the super-intuitive detective struggling to cope with his own demons. The sequel features two new distinctive thrilling crime stories, from creator and acclaimed suspense novelist Neil Cross, which premiere in four parts, across four weeks.  Luther follows the critically acclaimed espionage series, The Hour, continuing BBC AMERICA’s weekly British drama slot Dramaville, hosted by Elba.  Luther premieres Wednesday, September 28, 10:00pm ET on Dramaville.

Following the brutal murder of his wife, John Luther is devastated, but Still Standing.  With his old unit gone, he returns to policing at the newly created Serious and Serial Unit, headed by former police complaints officer Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley, Babel, Bleak House).  He quickly gathers together his team, rescuing his old partner Detective Justin Ripley (Warren Brown, Occupation, Shameless) from uniform. It's not long before they're dealing with their first case. A masked man wanders the streets of London, carrying out ritualistic murders in historic locations, working his way up to one final masterpiece. At the same time Luther’s trying to rescue Jenny, an old acquaintance’s daughter from the seedy world of prostitution.  But his mission to give Jenny a new start in life comes with a high price and he’s caught between breaking the rules and the mobsters that rule the world of prostitution in London.

Creator Neil Cross says: “In the Luther sequel, [we’ve got] bigger stories on a wider canvas. We've got some familiar faces and some new faces. We've got twists and turns. We've got bloodcurdling events on the streets of London. We've got fear and mayhem on a city-wide scale. We've got killers who'll make you want to check the doors and windows are locked before you go to bed at night. And at the heart of it all, we've got DCI John Luther – a man in ruins, but with a heart the size of the moon. Bloodied and battered, but somehow Still Standing. And still doing what he can.”

Idris Elba has garnered both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his role as John Luther and was also honored at the 42nd NAACP Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.  The sequel sees the return of Ruth Wilson (Small Island, The Prisoner) as Alice Morgan and Paul McGann (Withnail and I, True Dare Kiss) as Mark North.  They are joined by Kierston Wareing (The Shadow Line, Fish Tank) as new character Caroline Jones.

BBC AMERICA’s new weekly British drama slot, Dramaville hosted by Idris Elba airs Wednesdays at 10:00pm ET. Following Luther, Dramaville premieres the new crime thriller, Whitechapel, on October 26 and presents an encore broadcast of the award-winning conspiracy drama, State of Play, on December 7.

Twitter: @BBCAMERICA Hashtag: #Luther #Dramaville

BBC AMERICA delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming. Established in 1998, it has been the launch pad for talent embraced by American mainstream pop culture, including Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, and successful programming formats including ground-breaking non-scripted television like Top Gear and top-rated science-fiction like Doctor Who. Owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC AMERICA has attracted both critical acclaim and major awards including an Emmy, four Golden Globes and ten Peabody Awards. The channel attracts one of cable’s most affluent and educated audiences and is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 68 million homes. It broadcasts in both standard and high-definition, with content available On Demand across all major digital platforms. Online, www.bbcamerica.com is the place to go to dig deeper into pop culture with a British twist.

CAST AND PRODUCTION CREDITS

John Luther                  Idris Elba (Thor, The Wire, Takers)

Alice Morgan                Ruth Wilson (Small Island, The Prisoner)

Martin Schenk              Dermot Crowley (Babel, Bleak House)

Justin Ripley                 Warren Brown (Occupation, Shameless)

Erin Gray                     Nikki Amuka-Bird (Survivors, Small Island)

Mark North                  Paul McGann (Withnail and I, True Dare Kiss)

Baba                             Pam Ferris (Harry Potter, Matilda)

Caroline Jones              Kierston Wareing (The Shadow Line, Fish Tank)

Creator and Writer      Neil Cross (MI-5, The Fixer)

Associate Producer      Idris Elba

Executive Producer      Phillippa Giles (Emma, Jane Eyre)

Luther is a BBC and BBC AMERICA co-production distributed by BBC Worldwide.

 

PRODUCTION NOTES

 

WRITER NEIL CROSS ON WHERE HE’S TAKEN THE CHARACTER OF LUTHER

DCI John Luther's life is never what you'd call straightforward. At the end of Luther, we left him in a real mess. His adored wife, Zoe, was dead at the hands of his best friend, poor tormented DCI Ian Reed. The gun that killed Reed was still smoking in the hands of Alice Morgan – a psychopath who may be Luther's worst enemy. Or who may be, y'know – something else entirely. Luther was bleeding. The police were on their way. So what now?

Obviously, I can't tell you how we get Luther out of that particular predicament; but I can tell you it wasn't the way I was planning to do it when we faded out to the peerless sound of Nina Simone pleading not to be misunderstood. There were many reasons for this, but the most significant was that the BBC wanted to free me up to tell bigger stories over a wider canvas.

So that's what we've got in the Luther sequel, bigger stories on a wider canvas. We've got some familiar faces and some new faces. We've got twists and turns. We've got bloodcurdling events on the streets of London. We've got fear and mayhem on a city-wide scale. We've got killers who'll make you want to check the doors and windows are locked before you go to bed at night. And at the heart of it all, we've got DCI John Luther – a man in ruins, but with a heart the size of the moon. Bloodied and battered, but somehow Still Standing. And still doing what he can.

IDRIS ELBA ON JOHN LUTHER

DCI John Luther is a dedicated copper, dazzling, possessed and sometimes dangerous. But Luther has paid a heavy price for his dedication - his wife Zoe was brutally murdered by Luther's old colleague and former best friend Ian Reed. Luther is struggling to accept the loss of his wife and to cope with an overriding sense that it was his own obsessive dedication to his work and his immersion in the dark and dreary world of crime that caused her death.

Idris reminds us where we left things in the last episode before the start of the sequel:

"It was a very dramatic climax and Luther is just a complete mess following the events of last year’s series, he feels up against the whole world.”

"At the start of the two new specials, we see a new unit formed – the Serious and Serial Crime Unit headed up by DCU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), a former adversary, you could call him my nemesis almost.”

"Schenk was a really popular character and I think the writer, Neil Cross, wanted to bring him back – well we all wanted him back. So it seemed a logical step to put him in a position where he can actually keep an eye on Luther.”

"The structure of the new unit is different from the previous unit. Luther is still a DCI, but he's a bit more of a team player now because he has to be, under Schenk's say-so."

Idris goes on to explain that it's not such an unusual set up, as there was a real sense of a meeting of minds with Schenk and Luther. Although, of course, in last year’s series he investigated Luther:

"There seemed to be a bit of animosity from Luther at first, but ultimately Schenk is very good at his job and Luther respects that. I think that's what propels their relationship, they really respect each other."

The other big relationship from last year’s series is DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown):

"At the end of the last year’s series DS Justin Ripley is demoted to uniform and forgotten as a Custody Sergeant, and I think John felt really guilty about that. So we see him trying to fix that and making an effort to get his partner back in the new unit. I think that John's guilt is eased a little bit when he sees Justin back on the team.”

"It shows Luther has a compassionate side, he does have a heart after all, something else we see more of this year. He's tough and filled with a lot of demons, but he has absolutely got a heart. Definitely, and in the sequel his heartstrings are pulled even more because he's lost a big part of his life. Luther has changed, he becomes a team player. In the sequel he's got Schenk as his new boss, so he's playing the game a bit more, but you know, what makes him unique in the force is that he beats his own drum."

Last year’s series one saw some gruesome cases and characters.

"‘Neil Cross definitely knows how to delve into the darkest realms of life. The sequel sees Luther drawn into the most savage and cruel parts of the criminal world, confronted with challenging cases, I think it gets darker and more intriguing."

The new Serious and Serial Unit introduces complex, terrifying characters, whose mindsets Luther must understand and get to grips with:

"There's a great twist in the last two episodes, it just blows your mind. Luther gets drawn in, deeper and darker. Neil's created some great storylines for viewers to look forward to."

And as for how Luther will deal with that darkness, particularly after his recent trauma:

"I think it's a case of he almost doesn't want to do it, but he has no other choice. He feels compelled to do it. I think if Luther was given the option to die, he'd prefer death."

Luther's strange and compelling friendship with Alice Morgan was cemented into an unholy bond when Alice killed Ian Reed in last year’s series. Luther's alliance with the beautiful psychopath continues to haunt and taunt him in the sequel:

"Alice is back, she was another favorite character first time around and there is definitely a connection there. Ruth Wilson is great in that role, but I don't want to say anymore than that, you'll have to tune in and find out.”

"The other new characters include DS Erin Gray [Nikki Amuka-Bird] who joins the team. She proves quite a challenge for Luther and makes Ripley's life quite difficult too. Ripley is torn between being loyal to Luther and being very procedural.”

"Kierston Wareing joins the cast as Caroline Jones. She's the wife of a police officer that Luther had to put in jail. Luther gets involved in helping her out because he feels guilty about putting her husband away. So again Luther doesn't keep things simple, there are more complications and dilemmas he has to deal with."

And as for filming the sequel as two, two-part specials?

"It's a format thing, it gives our audience a different way to watch Luther. So it'll be interesting to see how the audience reacts, but we thought we could tell bigger stories in two two-hour specials."

Did you get any feedback from real detectives?

"Not personally, but I know the detective who advised us on Luther, his team love the show."

Idris Elba won both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his role as John Luther and was also honored at the 42nd NAACP Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie. He talks about the reaction both in the UK and in the States.

"I'm delighted of course, really pleased about the reaction here and in the U.S., and it was great the American audiences liked it and really accepted it.”

"My taste and brand of drama is set in both worlds, so hopefully, as a producer, part of that hopefully impacts on the drama."

As for what Idris likes about playing Luther, he says:

"He's a dark, very brooding character and that's always fun to play. I also like that he's extremely dynamic and fearless and I love that fearlessness about him. There's nothing he won't do to try and get the bad guy. You read these fantastic scenes where he does this odd stuff to really mean people and it's crazy, I love it."

And what is it he finds the most challenging?

"Getting up at 5:30am every day, ha ha! But seriously, Luther is the most demanding role I've ever had in my life, emotionally and physically. I can't play Luther slouching!"

And as for what Idris hopes the audience will go away with after seeing the Luther sequel:

"I hope they'll be excited, engrossed and thrilled. Luther takes viewers to places where TV drama rarely goes. It's an emotional roller coaster, full of unexpected twists and turns. Hopefully, we're going to knock people out. That's what we aspire to do, anyway."

EPISODE SYNOPSES

Episode 1

Still plagued by the death of his ex-wife, Luther returns to work to face a surreal and nightmarish case of a masked murderer determined to enter into folklore.  As the body count rises, Luther must use all his skills to stop the killer.  At the same time he decides to rescue an old acquaintance’s daughter, Jenny, from the seedy world of prostitution. Episode 1 premieres Wednesday, September 28, 10:00p.m. ET.

Episode 2

Luther must find Ripley, abducted by the masked murderer, in time to prevent the killer’s final destructive act.  Meanwhile the ruthless and vengeful boss of Jenny, Baba, is demanding compensation for stealing her protégé.  Luther is torn.  Will his visionary mind provide the team with the tools to save Ripley and the killer’s intended victims, or will his focus be compromised? Episode 2 premieres Wednesday, October 5, 10:00p.m. ET.
Episode 3

As Luther’s affection for Jenny grows so does his determination to protect her and help her back on her feet.  However Baba is determined to keep Luther on a tight leash and threatens him to surrender Jenny.  To add to his difficulties, he’s called in to investigate a man whose brutal and escalating murders seem to have no motive, leaving Jenny alone and vulnerable.  Episode 3 premieres Wednesday, October 12, 10:00p.m. ET.

Episode 4

Luther’s personal and professional life spirals out of control as he tries to cover up the death of Jenny’s main adversary and appease a suspicious Baba. He must also protect Jenny from any further harm.  At work there’s also a killer at large whose actions are ruled by his dice.  How do you stop a man who sees life and death as a game and whose actions can’t be predicted? Episode 4 premieres Wednesday, October 19, 10:00p.m. ET.

CHARACTER GUIDE

Alice Morgan played by Ruth Wilson

Alice Morgan, a celebrated child genius, completed her PhD in astrophysics at the age of 18 and worked at a London university as a research fellow.  She’s spent her life feeling different, special and freakish. For Alice, human existence is insignificant and life is futile and senseless – which is why she felt compelled to murder her own mother and father. Luther has never been able to convict Alice and they’ve subsequently formed a strange and uneasy friendship. In the sequel balance has shifted and it's Alice who needs Luther's help and support.

DSU Martin Schenk played by Dermot Crowley

Working for Police Complaints, DSU Martin Schenk appears unassuming but is universally feared for his steel-trap mind. Deceptively observant and intuitive, he’s determined to rid the force of bent coppers (crooked policemen). Although Schenk admires his talents, that might include DCI John Luther. In the sequel, Schenk once more comes across his most worthy opponent and finds himself strangely drawn to Luther's side.

DS Justin Ripley played by Warren Brown

DS Justin Ripley is young, ambitious and eager. He studied forensic psychology and criminology to post-graduate level and has a textbook knowledge of the last 50 years of crime-solving. In the sequel, Ripley remains unwaveringly loyal to his boss – but he has his own ideas about what's right and what's not. Having spent a year as Luther's wingman, he knows to his own cost that while Luther burns brightly, those who stand too close are liable to get burned.

Mark North played by Paul McGann

Despite their numerous differences Mark and Luther share a bond that cannot be broken through their grief for Zoe. For months now, they’ve found solace and comfort in one another's company and random late night games of chess. When Luther finds himself with a problem that he can't bring into his professional world, he turns to the man he utterly and completely trusts, Mark.

DC Benny Silver played by Michael Smiley

Benny is more comfortable with a console than a conversation, which makes him a bit of a recluse. But he’s an exemplary hacker and what he doesn't know about computers and technology just isn't worth knowing. Benny's reputation and the hours he’s contracted by the SSU have sharply risen recently as technology becomes an increasingly important factor in crime solving. Rarely a case goes by when Luther doesn't need Benny's infinite knowledge of trivia and his high-tech nerdy expertise.

NEW CHARACTERS

Caroline Jones played by Kierston Wareing

Fifteen years ago Caroline's husband accidentally murdered a prostitute, panicked and disposed of her body. Luther tracked him down and was utterly brutal in the way in which he put him away, so he killed himself. In the process, Caroline lost her wealth, her health, her friends and her happiness. Her life was hauled over the coals by the tabloids and her daughter went off the rails. She trusted in Luther to help her, but ended up as a victim on the sideline of his campaign for justice. As far as Caroline's concerned, Luther destroyed her life and her daughter Jenny's life. Luther owes her big time.

Jenny Jones played by Aimee Ffion Edwards

Jenny lost her way after her father was hauled to prison and committed suicide. She found herself falling into a downward spiral, unable to help herself. Her bravado hides a vulnerable, lost little girl who wants to be loved. In her relationship with Luther, she is smart and sassy, and certainly hasn't lost her teenage petulance. They are like the odd couple with their different quirks and attitudes, who find a mutual understanding and affection. Jenny is Luther's Achilles heel. If he can save her, he can prove that there is love in the world.

DS Erin Gray played by Nikki Amuka-Bird

Erin Gray has entered the police force on the High Potential Scheme, on a fast-track through the system. Highly intelligent and ambitious yet simultaneously young and naive, she comes from a sheltered background. Excited by her new role, she’s also apprehensive about the prospect of working with a man of Luther's reputation. Determined to succeed, she makes it clear that she will not get her hands dirty or be tarnished by the same brush that tarnished Ripley. But abiding by the rules proves a much harder choice than she ever anticipated.

 

 
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